Thursday, March 31, 2016

Luckiest Girl Alive Giveaway

When Simon and Schuster contacted me asking if I would be interested in offering a giveaway for the paperback release of Jessica Knoll's LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE I jumped at the chance. This is a perfect book for poolside reading in the summer, and the paperback edition will fit perfectly in a beach tote.

There has been plenty of buzz for this one already including Reese Witherspoon's production company purchasing rights to get this novel onto the big screen!

This novel has recently been back in the news with Jessica Knoll sharing some real life inspiration behind the novel. I already loved her, but her bravery in speaking up has made me have so much respect for her.

Here is a little about the book to get you intrigued. I found it to be a rollercoast thrill ride that was filled with surprises! It really is the perfect summer page turner.


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?
You can learn more about this book by visiting it's Goodreads page, or the publisher website. You can also check out what I thought by reading my review.

Be sure to pick up the paperback edition on April 5th, or you can win right here!

To win just enter via the Rafflecopter below and good luck! The contest is open to USA residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ...... Everland

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Everland by Wendy Spinle

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook? 
This immediately caught my attention because I am a huge Peter Pan fanatic (which everyone is already well aware of). I love this steampunk sound twist to this story. STEAMPUNK PETER PAN! I mean... it is basically EVERYTHING I want. It also sounds like it has a bit of a historical feel to it. My expectations for this one is seriously high and I cannot wait to read it to see if it is as good as I think it will be.

Expected release date - May 10, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
Release Date - April 5, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 544 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.
A fantasy series depends on it's world building. It is what makes the difference between a decent read and a fantastic one. This means everything about the world that has been created should be developed within the pages of the story. The setting, history, rules and characters are all just as important as the plot. A compelling cast of characters will not make up for a lack of development elsewhere, even if the novel is well written and unique.

Being a duology did not allow this series to come into it's fullest potential. The Orphan Queen felt perfectly paced, and filled with potential. The Mirror Queen, however, felt hurried. The storylines came across as crammed, and rushed into a space that just couldn't contain them. There are many unexplored and unanswered aspects to this story and this impacted my enjoyment of this novel as a finale. It reads like an action packed, if overstuffed, second novel in a larger story rather than the conclusion of one. It felt like an author attempting to finish up an ambitious story in a space much too small for the story they are telling and the narrative flow was impacted as a result.

The magic of this world is the element that gets the least attention and has the most unanswered questions. I, personally, wanted to learn so much more about it than we did. I wanted to dive into the hows and whys of the wraith. I wanted an explanation as to where it came from, and how it worked. Perhaps magic is unexplainable and that is the point being made, but I wanted something more from it.

There are plenty of positives and moments that shine brightly to make this an enjoyable (if sometimes frustrating read). The characters are where Jodi Meadows truly shines. They are vibrant, and complex. She knows her characters inside and out, and that makes itself obvious in every single interaction between them. These characters are the heart of the story and they create the emotional connection to the story that allows you to still fall within it's pages. I believe that character driven readers, like myself, will especially enjoy this story because of the strength in which they are written.

I anticipate that the ending will be polarizing. There will be those who love it, and those who feel it's too abrupt. I, personally, loved that we leave our surviving characters on the cusp of their futures. There doesn't need to be a tidy bow tied around the story with a fully realized happily ever after. It's enough to know that the characters go on after our time with them ends, and that is the sort of ending we get here.

This is a series that was filled with potential. I only wish it had been given the space, and time to reach that potential. While I was left unsatisfied by certain elements of the story, I think fans of Jodi Meadows' previous work will enjoy this offering as the elements they loved from her previous books are here. I, personally, am still looking forward to whatever Jodi Meadows' writes next because the elements I loved were enough to outweigh the elements I wasn't fully sold on.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.


Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller (goodreads)

This deal announcement caught my eye as the book has been compared to The Virgin Suicides. Not much was revealed in the synopsis other than it would explore mental health and sexual violence. I am curious enough to want to find out more about it.


Luke Evans and Hugh Jackman Gaston Sing Off

It's not a secret that I adore Beauty and the Beast. It's also not a secret that I am insanely excited for the live action movie coming out in 2017 that features Emma Watson as Belle.

This adorable video was sent to me from a friend who knew I would enjoy it and now I am sharing it's smile inducing charm with all of you.

Luke Evans and Hugh Jackman are challenged to a Gaston sing off to prove who is the best Gaston. In my opinion the only winners are us who get to enjoy this amazingness.

It's made me want to watch Luke Evans' in Beauty and the Beast even more now. I am sure he's going to be a fantastic Gaston!


BEA Countdown

We're just about a month away from BEA and I am SO excited. I cannot wait to see friends and meet some of my favourite authors and get to see Chicago for the first time. This is about when I start to get antsy and impatient. It does feel that this year has kind of crept up on me though because we're much closer than I anticipated.  Will I be seeing you at BEA? Let me know in the comments.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, March 25, 2016

What She Left by T.R. Richmond

What She Left by T.R. Richmond
Release Date - January 12, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster (Penguin Random House in Canada)
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge, a professor pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student—and unearths a shocking revelation about her final days.

On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or…murder?

Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project—a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.

Bit by bit, the real Alice—a complicated and vulnerable young woman—springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle—including Jeremy himself.
In the internet age we've become accustomed to posting so much of our lives online. We update Facebook and Twitter routinely and our inbox is a record of plenty of our correspondence. I've never given much thought to what this electronic paper trial means when we die. What She Left looks at how you could piece together a picture of who someone was using their electronic footprint and shows just how much of us is left behind. This novel's unique format of using blog posts, text messages, Twitter updates and regular letters, ensures a captivating and quick read.

The biggest element that stands out in this story is how much we learn about these characters. Typically in mysteries we learn only what it needed for the story. Characterization is secondary to plot and the big twist pay off for this genre. T.R. Richmond, however, laces character traits into every post, update, and letter. Their voice becomes distinct and that makes us feel that we've come to know them. They become the heart of this story. Alice, in particular, is brought to life. She is someone you come to care about and that makes this character's death resonate a little deeper.

Unreliable narrators are common in mystery novels. It has become almost expected in mystery novels at this point. The format is used as the unreliable narrator in this case. You're always second guessing how truthful people are being because of the medium used. People are not always truthful online, and their actions are not there to compare with the words they are using. It may not be unique to use diary entries and things in novels, but it felt unique for an entire novel to be written this way. The events are told through the person writing and that limits the scope as well, adding another layer of unreliability. We're given the events as they remember them, not necessarily as they truly happened.

There are plenty of plausible theories of what happened that fateful night discussed and examined during this novel. Murder, accident, suicide are just some of the avenues explored. The truth, when revealed, is something I didn't consider, but is done in a really clever and plausible way. It makes sense in the end with everything else we know. While I did feel the pacing suffered a little, and that the beginning is the stronger half, the ending itself is satisfying.

A surprisingly heartfelt, and quiet mystery that weaves together in a unique format. T.R. Richmond keeps the reader on their toes as plenty of plausible answers to the mystery of what happened to Alice are offered and investigated. Those who are looking for a different type of mystery novel will want to pick this one up.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sexy Summer Reading - Recommendations Wanted

With winter FINALLY starting to leave us, and a hint of spring in the air, my thoughts have turned to planning my summer reading ... and I need some help.

I  am looking to spice up my sexy TBR with some sexy reading for the poolside (and use them for a themed week in the middle of July). The problem is I don't know where to start. I am hoping my lovely followers will leave some recommendations in the comments (or message me them on Twitter).

No restrictions on genre. They can be YA, NA or Adult. They can be a mix of old and new releases. The only requirement is that they are the type of book that will heat up your beach time reading!

What books have you read and loved? Which ones do you want someone else to try before you dive in? Recommend them all and I'll pick a few to throw into my beach bag this summer!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ...... Stealing Snow

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.
I love the twist that Danielle put on The Wizard Of Oz, and cannot wait to see how she twists the Snow Queen. It sounds like a modernized retelling which could be really interesting. Danielle's strength is putting a fresh spin on things, so I am sure this will be no exception.

Expected release date - September 27, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry
Release Date - March 29, 2016
Publisher Website - HarlequinTeen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.
Katie McGarry has proven herself a force within the Young Adult contemporary genre. She manages to craft these wonderful characters that resonate with you in a very real way. Walk The Edge is no exception. She once again proves why her novels are so popular, and continues to solidify her voice and brand.

Razor is tormented. He's torn from the inside out. Raw and left exposed like a live wire. He's hot tempered, and quick to react. He holds a gritty, dangerous quality that I never quite got from Oz. This book had the gravity and stakes that I wanted to feel from Nowhere But Here. This instalment made it feel more like a series about a motorcycle club, and Razor was a big part of that. The danger felt more palpable, and the reality of this life and what it means to be part of a family in this way is explored in greater detail and I really enjoyed getting an overview into a world I've never experienced.

I felt a connection with Breanna immediately. She's someone who has sacrificed things for the good of other people, even when it may not be the best decision for herself. She's someone who wanted to blend in, until she didn't. We've all wanted to be seen, and to be the noticed by the cute guy or girl. We've all felt the strain and pressure from family in some form. It's easy to understand Bre, and that makes her story mean a little bit more. Her choices, and the reasons behind them are clear and concise. This is just another testament to how well Katie McGarry crafts characters, because I did feel like I got to know both Razor and Bre by the end of their story.

There is a strength that comes with trust, and there is a pride to be had in preserving. This novel examines what it means to trust those in your life, including your family. It's a theme that is felt in every single corner of this novel. There is a strength in continuing to try. It may be the hardest ting to do but it also could be the most rewarding and I love how that was explored with a delicate finesse. It may feel easier to give up when things get tough, but the reward waiting on the other side of working through the tough things is worth it. This novel tells you that no matter how dire things feel that there is always hope. I liked that this novel showed that you can fix mistakes, even if it feels like too much time has gone by. There is also the chance to heal, and start towards something new, even if you never recapture what you had before. If you love someone, you can work through it together. Katie's novels always have advice like this wrapped into it's pages, and for a teenager it could make all the difference.

This series, while technically companion novels, feel more like sequels. This novel feels like another building block on the one before it, and one that amps up the tension. There is something brewing and I anticipate that each subsequent novel in this series will only increase that feeling of free fall. I am expecting that tensions between the Riot and Reign of Terror clubs will only build and eventually blow. It keeps the reader on edge, and has me both excited for, and apprehensive of what is to come next.

The romance in this is classic Katie McGarry. It's sexy, sensual, and consuming. I was invested in the outcome of this novel and what it would mean for Breanna and Razor. Katie McGarry is at her best while writing romance. She makes you feel the connections being built and captures sexual tension effortlessly. It's easy to see why every couple she writes is beloved by fans, and it all comes down to the choices she makes in her writing.

Katie McGarry once again lures you into her world using her addictive style of writing. Fans will be happy to hear that they can expect more of the same from this novel - a engaging, romantic story that . Those who haven't read one of her novels shouldn't definitely start, particularly if you're a fan of Young Adult contemporary.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.


Cover of Paper Princess by Erin Watt (goodreads)

This was my Waiting On Wednesday pick this week. It caught my eye because it sounds like Cruel Intentions meets Gossip Girl but with royals. I am so in, and I LOVE this cover. 

I am a big fan of the watercolour look, and I am excited to own this for my bookshelf!

Lizzie by Dawn Ius (goodreads)

A contemporary take on the infamous Lizzie Borden story and I am SOOOOO excited about. This story has ALWAYS fascinated me and I am so looking forward to what Dawn does with this chilling tale. 


The Path key art

I am a huge fan of Aaron Paul. Have been since watching him give an incredible performance as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. I was thrilled when I heard he would be joining Hugh Dancy in The Path.

I love this key art! I am so excited for this show to premiere at the end of the month. The lighting is the most striking thing about this image and I love how it almost shadows out Michelle Monaghan and Hugh Dancy. It creates a tone for the show that has me really excited.

Suicide Squad posters

The Suicide Squad movie released some new posters. I believe these are meant to advertise that there was promotion being done at #SXSW (South By South West Festival). Apparently Harley Quinn's Tattoo Parlour was there!

Each of the members have a poster, but I love the Joker and Harley ones so much! If you were lucky enough to stop by Harley's Tattoo Parlour at #SXSW this year, let me know all about your experience in the comments! I saw that they had amazing lollipops too!

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, March 18, 2016

This Is Where The World Ends by Amy Zhang

This Is Where The World Ends by Amy Zhang
Release Date - March 22, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance in a second novel.
Some reviews are harder to write than others. Some books you cannot talk about in as much detail as you wish due to not wanting to spoil the experience for anyone. This Is Where The World Ends is one such novel. The synopsis only hints at the truth hidden within these pages but, once again, Amy Zhang has crafted a poignant and relevant story with her incredibly prose.

Amy Zhang's writing is lyrical and beautiful. Fans of her first novel will immediately fall into this story. Her skill as a writer is in exploring these complex themes in relatively minimal pages. Her stories are tight, condensed and every word and nuance serves the story. This is a story where words matter, and that is reflected even in the writing.

This is a novel of friendship first and foremost, as well as a mystery. The friendship in this novel is messy, magical, wonderful, and consuming. Their friendship is filled with late night adventures and inside jokes. This friendship isn't without it's flaws, and has it's ups and downs, but there is something magical about their bond. The notion of 'something more' is always there in the shadows, and you feel the genuine love and affection these two hold for each other. They balance each other and push each other out of the comfort zones.

This story is told in dual perspectives. We get to hear from both Micah and Janie (both in flashbacks and diary entries). Micah is an unreliable narrator because his memories from the night Janie disappeared are fuzzy. This creates a pretty engrossing mystery whose truth is achingly sad, and all too realistic. The use of the two narrators really works in this particular case. They both fill in details missing from the other that the reader needs to have a complete story. This style of writing is most effective when the two narrations compliment each other, and that is exactly what happens here.

Fairytales are used heavily in this novel, but not in the way you think. This isn't a revamped fairytale where once upon a time leads to happily ever after. This story is one that is all too achingly real and familiar. This story isn't a happy one and Amy Zhang's heartbreaking portrayal of what really happened to Janie is one of the more perfectly crafted parts of the novel. It felt real, infuriating, and honest.

Amy Zhang proves once again that she is a bright emerging voice in Young Adult literature. She manages to pack so much emotion into her stories while keeping you captivated by the story. I eagerly await whatever she writes next and what themes she may explore in the process. These are books that get you talking, and there is much to say about Janie and her story.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Release Date - March 8, 2015
Publisher Website - Candlewick Press
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 308 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home.

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? 
Historical novels, at least for me, work the best when there is something that connects with the reader in the present. It could be the journey the character takes, or even being shown how little things have changed. Burn Baby Burn effortlessly transports us to New York City in the late 1970's where fear was the defining emotion. It also, however, mirrors current day situations in it's own way and offers a universal message of overcoming your fears.

Current situations are reflected in many ways in this novel. New York City was in a constant state of fear thanks to the Son of Sam shootings. This isn't too different from today with the sheer volume of mass shootings and other terror threats. It's a palpable shift in the way our world is viewed, even as we continue to live in it. There is still political strife today, and equality is still something we need to work towards. In Burn Baby Burn the police are accused of treating people differently based on race and socio-economic status. There are even accusations of them shooting suspects because of their race. This mirrors today in a really jarring way. It holds a stark mirror to the fact that we really haven't come that far.

The Son of Sam hysteria that plagued New York City is kept in the background. Nora is haunted by the much closer violence that exists within her own home. The use of the Son of Sam case in the background created a heightened sense of fear. Just going to the movies at night became a sort of version of Russian Roulette for a lot of people. The use of this case, and it's impact on New York City, offers a perfect backdrop for this coming of age story and the message it's try to send. It felt right that it was kept in the background. There is no near miss where the protagonist walks down a different street or anything like that. This is not a story about the Son of Sam. It's rather a story of growing up in that particular environment, and the need to overcome a fear to move forward.

Nora's household is one of egg shells. Trying to keep her bullying brother from flying into a rage is exhausting and more harrowing for Nora than anything happening outside her home. The portrayal of an abusive household is pitch perfect, and fraught with real emotion. Hector is also brilliantly captured with a balance between the boy he used to be, and the man he is becoming painted with striking reality. The reality of living this existence and the need to keep it a secret from those around you is something that felt honest and real.

When David Berkowitz is caught Nora comments that he is nothing like she expected him to be. Bringing him out of the shadows and into the light made his hold over them weaken. He became human in the bright reality of day. This novel shows that this analogy is true of secrets as well. They seem all encompassing in the dark places where you keep them to yourself, but when you share them with people you trust and drag them out into the light they don't seem as terrifying or overwhelming. This is something Nora struggles with and is captured perfectly by Meg Medina.

Secrets can harden people. Fear can, too. This novel is all about embracing those things and coming out the other side stronger for it. Allowing it to eat away at us is shown to be harmful, while reaching out can be therapeutic in so many ways. This is the heart of the story. Nora is its heart in so many ways. Her journey is recognizable and poignant. She's on the cusp of adulthood and dealing with this that have the power to harden and restrict her. Her future depends on her trusting others and doing things that scare her. Everyone can relate to that and it's done in a really powerful way.

Fans of historical novels will delight in this well researched, well written look at a harrowing time in New York City history. Those who don't appreciate historical reads as much will get lost in the characters and the current day parallels. While it's hook may be it's time period setting, it's the characters that stay with you once you've turned that final page.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ..... Paper Princess

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Paper Princess by Erin Watt

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.
I normally do not read self published novels, but this sounds AMAZING. My friend Emilie has also raved about the two authors behind this new series, so I feel confident in taking a chance on this one. It sounds like a mix of Cruel Intentions, Gossip Girl and royalty which immediately piqued my interest. I need it! Luckily we don't have long to wait - it comes out early next month! I am considering this a belated birthday gift since it comes out the day after my birthday!

Expected release date - April 4, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow
Release Date - January 26, 2016
Publisher Website - Self Published
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 308 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for honest review **

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Witches are real. They're descendants of the Olympian gods. And now, five teen witches gifted with elemental powers must fight to stop a war against the Titans.

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly ... she's apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers--and, to her dismay, by Blake--the school's notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle's wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers over the elements. But the comet has another effect--it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it's up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town ... and possibly the world.
Michelle Madow is quickly becoming an author whose novels I grab when I want a fun read. I know that her novels will be an entertaining, fast paced read.. Elementals continued this tradition. This mix of Greek and witch mythology, while not feeling entirely new,  is reminiscent of a CW television show complete with romance, action and beautiful teenagers.

This novel will instantly feel recognizable to those who have read a variety of YA novels. It utilizes the popular tropes that many use while combining them in a truly fun way. This has a blend of action, adventure, romance and mythology that works to create an incredibly addictive read. The familiar feeling made it easier to connect with the story and it's characters. It felt comfortable and because of that getting lost in the story was effortless.

Nicole is the fish out of water character who discovers that she holds special powers. She embodies a lot of traits that come along with this character trope. Michelle infuses her with enough personality to make her stand out on her own though. She is a nice blend of confident and unsure. Her natural abilities are explained in a believable way that are part of the plot.

The romance, as hinted in the synopsis, is a bit of a triangle. It also has some cheating involved in it. Nicole is conflicted about what is happening and feels guilty for every moment her and Blake spend together. There is a sort of destined feeling to Nicole and Blake's interactions, but I hope the romance is expanded in the following sequels. I want a little more insight into what draws them together, and not just because of looks. The problem with action heavy novels is that sometimes the development of relationships like this is not as prevalent. I hope to see a deepening of the connections between the characters going forward, romantic or otherwise.

Danielle, so far, has been a pretty one dimensional character. The classic mean girl who hates girls who even dare to just look at her boyfriend. However, Michelle took this type of character in her Secret Diamond Sisters series and added layers to her. She made her more complex and something other than just the cliché mean girl. I anticipate that Danielle will be given the same treatment.

With much of the story set up being done in this first novel, I hope the characters are the focus of the second. We're comfortable with the world they inhabit and the magic that flows through them, but I want to know more about them. This novel felt like the start of a much bigger story, and I eager to see where it takes these characters next.

A story that weaves witch mythology and Greek mythology with some tropes we all know well. It's a promising start to what could be a fun, entertaining series. I look forward to seeing how the characters and plot progress in the upcoming sequels.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

Lots of exciting things in the mail this week!

First up, I received my March #otspsecretsister package. I had mentioned how much I missed summer and that I was entirely done with winter. My sister, 'Tink', sent me summer in  a package!

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (goodreads)

She sent me bubbles, fruity candles, some reusable ice cubes, little drink umbrellas, Easter M&Ms AND a kit to grow my own strawberries! I immediately set up the strawberry growing kit, and I am excited to see if it works. I had read Amy and Roger's Epic Detour before, but it was the one Morgan Matson book I do not own so I was excited to get a copy. A huge thank you to 'Tink' for the amazing package. Oh, and not included in the picture? A package of island flavoured cat treats for Aria to get a head start on summer, too. She loves them!

Two other books made their way into my book closet this week. One was a purchase and the other is a review copy sent from the publisher.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (goodreads)
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (goodreads)

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending along the review copy of The Serpent King. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this one and I cannot wait to read it.

I also have been hearing AMAZING things about Lady Midnight and cannot wait to fit it into my reading schedule. Sadly, it looks like it might be a little while, but I look forward to sharing my thoughts when I am able.

What bookish items made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn 
Release Date - November 3, 2015
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 64 pages
My Rating - 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.
The Grownup is Gillian Flynn's version of a ghost story. Fans of her work will immediately know that means a dark atmosphere, plenty of surprises and story where nothing is as at first seems. The truth is more unsettling than fiction, and it's a story that will leave you with chills.

Gillian Flynn is the queen of dark characters. She crafts these flawed, damaged characters effortlessly. She allows them to walk a thin moral line, and they are all the more captivating for it. There is something about all her characters that make them memorable. From Amy Dunne, to our unnamed narrator, she writes female characters that are unlike anything I've read before. Her characterization is pitch perfect, even in short story format.

This is a story unlike any ghost story you've read before. The truth behind what is haunting the Burke's is filled with more than a few surprises. It's a psychological thriller within 64 pages, and it's a story that shows exactly why Gillian is the master of her genre. Unsettling, explosive, and entirely compelling.

My only complaint at the end was that I wanted a full book about this story. The potential is there for a full length novel about these characters. You will feel unsatisfied, but only because you're not ready to leave this world or these characters. The ending, in typical Gillian Flynn fashion, is both ambiguous and unsettling and that just makes you crave another book from Gillian Flynn all the more. Those looking for a quick, but well written, read will want to devour this one... ghosts and all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ..... RoseBlood

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this modern day spinoff of Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germaine has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. 

Hoping creative direction will help, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn -- an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks.

As the two discover an otherworldly connection, a soul-deep romance blossoms. But when Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light, he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known. Slated to launch January 2017.
I have been looking for a YA inspired by Phantom Of The Opera so was extremely happy when I saw this cover reveal. It is quite a wait for this one as it comes out in early 2017, but  I am really looking forward to it. The synopsis sounds like it'll be a dark and atmospheric nod to the classic story.

Expected release date - January 10, 2017

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date - March 29, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 496 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
I fully expected to have my heart broken while reading The Winner's Kiss. Marie Rutkoski's subtly beautiful series has shown that there is beauty in unexpected places, but heartbreak too. The previous novels have offered an exquisite heartbreak while leaving you entirely captivated. This finale offered up plenty to mourn as we see the cost of war, but also plenty to find solace in as we see the resilience within people.

Kestrel, right from the moment we meet her in The Winner's Curse, quickly become one of my favourite characters. She is, to borrow from Taylor Swift, the definition of a 'nightmare dressed like a daydream'. She's a strategist who will out maneuver you. She's the knife you never see coming. She's not a warrior or even a fighter really, and that is what I love most about her. She uses her intelligence and political skill to get things done. This is what sets Kestrel apart from other literary heroines, and also what makes her such a welcome inclusion to the Badass YA Ladies list. She uses the skills she does possess and I can think of no better message for readers than that of owning what you're good at and feeling pride in it.

The ending of The Winner's Crime left us with Kestrel being branded a traitor, and her future uncertain. We quickly see what the consequences of her actions are. She proves herself just as resourceful, and as resilient as I hoped. Kestrel truly is a character to admire for her complexity, and tenacity. This final chapter in her story only proves her willingness to remain steadfast in her beliefs, even if she sometimes doubts herself.

The romance in this series has a lot in common with Pride and Prejudice even if the novels have nothing in common at first glance. There is a pride in both Kestrel and Arin that prevents them from fully communicating with each other, and their own prejudices and self doubt prevent them from moving towards the happiness they both deserve. This novel is a quieter, slower burn romance but is all the better for it. I won't spoil if Arin and Kestrel have a happy ending, only that their story continues in this installment and is as brilliantly written as the previous chapters in their romance.

There is plenty said about war, and the costs of war within these pages. Even the 'winners' are left with uncertainty and casualties. This novel balances the injustices done, and the need for freedom, with the brutal truth of war. It may be necessary to fight for what you believe in, but Marie Rutkoski shows that it always comes at a cost.

Surprisingly, forgiveness is a reoccurring theme within these pages. Particularly the strength it takes to offer forgiveness to those who may not truly deserve it. Forgiveness can heal and is a vital part of the healing process for a lot of our characters. It's tied together beautifully with the war storyline in a way that is effortless. It makes the story richer, and touching. Marie Rutkoski shines most in the character motivated moments that are rich with emotion and that is evident as this story comes to close.

Marie Rukoski ends The Winner's Trilogy with a stunning, romantic finale that offers up the most fitting ending to Kestrel and Arin's story. This has been a series of war, love, and miscommunication and that remains true in the finale. The beautiful writing may draw you in, but this finale proves it's the characters that make the series shine.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.


Cover of As I Descended by Robin Talley (goodreads)

All of the Fall 2016 covers are starting to be revealed, and I am in love with this cover for Robin Talley's newest novel. It suits the synopsis perfectly.

I love the cover scheme here. The moody/atmospheric cover fits with a Macbeth retelling. This is high on my list for Fall 2016 and the cover is just pretty wrapping on an already amazing sounding story.

Cover of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (goodreads)

I am a fan of simplistic covers. Less is more usually. I immediately loved this cover when I saw it. It's simple, but eye catching and immediately piques your interest.

This story of three sisters who must fight for a crown is a must read for me, and this cover just makes me all the more excited to have it in my hands.

paperback cover for Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius (goodreads)

I loved this novel, and I loved the hot pink, eye catching cover that was on the hardcover, BUT this paperback cover? This paperback cover is amazing.

These models perfectly capture Dawn Ius' Anne and Henry and it has a modern feel to it that fits the updated story perfectly. It's fun, and that also fits the novel. I am excited to see this one on shelves (and there may just be a giveaway closer to release!)


Penny Dreadful Season 3 Trailer

This trailer gave me goosebumps. From the haunting cover of 'You Don't Own Me' to Victor Frankenstein's proclamation that he wrote 'the bloody book' on sin, each and every single part of this trailer is phenomenal. 

Eva Green is a goddess and I am so excited to see what surprises her storyline has in store for us. I am so excited for more #Ethanessa goodness and my heart is already aching for my tragically doomed Victor. May cannot get here fast enough!

Sexy Outlander Photoshoot

Outlander graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly this past week. Along with a jaw droppingly sexy cover, there were some incredible photos inside.

Here is my favourite....

This photo, which again shows that I prefer the less is more approach, is one of the tamer photos from the shoot, but it's one of the sexiest in my opinion. The way they are looking at each other is sexy. The placement of their hands is sexy. Check out the entire photo shoot, but been aware that some of the shots are perhaps a little NSFW.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

In Real Life by Jessica Love

In Real Life by Jessica Love 
Release Date - March 1, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 240 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
The world we live in is smaller than ever before. We can communicate to someone who lives across the world in the blink of an eye. Skype, email, and Twitter have all served to turn our world into what feels like a community. In Real Life examines the ups and downs of an online friendship, especially one that may be turning into something more, and the highs and lows of meeting in real life.

Anyone who has grown up with the internet will instantly connect with the set up of the story. We've all struggled with whether or not we should meet our online friends in person. We've questioned if it'll be awkward, and if that amazing connection will translate offline the same way it does online. Add to that the worries of safety and the natural butterflies if more than friendship feelings are involved and it's easy to sympathize with Hannah.

Hannah is a 'good girl' who decides to take some risks. Nothing will ever go exactly as you plan it, and the reality of Hannah's crushed dreams take a toll on her. She doesn't always make the best choices, but they are choices that feel right for her character. She's someone who has never experienced this kind of betrayal, and she reacts a little strongly at times and makes rash decisions as a result. The Las Veags setting lends a flashy setting to backdrop this drama and it really works. It feels right that it would take place in sin city, as my experience is nobody's Vegas experience is what they daydream it to be.

There are secrets and lies at the heart of this novel. Nick has kept a few things from Hannah that come crashing down around them when they finally meet. Without going into spoilers, there is a specific secret that involves another person. This person is treated unfairly, in my opinion, by Hannah. Nick is the one who kept secrets, but I feel this other person unfairly gets Hannah's anger directed at them.

My only, minor, issue with the story is that I wish it had gone a little deeper into certain aspects of the story. I wanted a little more from the characters, too. It reads like a cute romantic comedy movie, just one with a deeper message of how we interact with others in this media age. For me, the story just wasn't as memorable as I hoped, even has I had fun devouring every page. It's reminiscent of it's setting in that way - fun, but memories are blurry after.

A sweet, feel good story about love and friendship in the digital age. It's one of those books that is simply fun to read. It's characters are realistic and it's storyline is sweet, and boasts one of the more adorable endings I encountered in recent memory.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Release Date - February 16, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose. 
The Shadow Queen is everything I wanted Snow White and the Huntsman to be. It's romantic, twists the Snow White tale by giving her some agency, and adds more than a touch of magic with it's fantasy spin. It retains it's fairytale feel even well embracing the fantasy elements that have been woven in.

Lorelai was surprising. She's someone who is born to lead and be a Queen. Both she and Queen Irina are these powerful women with these fierce powers. They are formidable and equal which creates a tantalizingly level playing field. This is a clash of two driven women who each feel justified in their actions, even if it comes at a steep price. This is what I have looked for in a Snow White adaptation and it ended up being even more satisfying in book form.

Queen Irina is, perhaps surprisingly, the most fascinating character to grace these pages. She's a villain who believes what she is doing is justified and deserved. As she grows more and more desperate to hold on to her power, the lengths she is willing to go to become more sinister. I would devour an entire book about her, and her complex relationship with her loyal servant, Viktor. Villains who are willing to sacrifice anything for their agenda are the most terrifying because they have nothing to lose. Combined this with her blind justification and she's a compelling presence in this story. C.J. Redwine knows that a villain must pull some sympathy, and there is a little glimmer of that within these pages. Irina has plenty of chances to make different choices, she just refuses to back down regardless of the cost. She has plenty of chances to atone for what she's done, but it doesn't interest her in the least. It's easy to play 'what if' with the events that unravel because it would have changed the outcome so significantly.

Combining the huntsman and Prince into one character created a delicious tension that added to the fairytale feel of the romance. The romance is the element that felt most like a fairytale. It was romantic, fraught with high stakes, and the stuff of legend. It's the type of romance you could see as a tale told throughout the kingdom and beyond. This aspect was only helped by the fact that Prince Kol is genuinely princely. He's honourable, determined, and fair. Even when he takes on the huntsman role, it is done in a way that only highlights what a perfect fit he would be for Lorelai.

The star of this novel, however, is Sasha. She's a sassy, humourous, fiercely protective white gyrfalcon whose personality leaps off the page. Whether she is fighting at Lorelai's side, or taunting with visions of what she considers delicious food, this gyrfalcon will win over your heart. She provides so many of the lighter moments in the novel which are paced perfectly against the action and romance.

Those who like their fairytales to be combined with magic and dragons will immediately fall in love with richly vivid world. The Shadow Queen is a wonderful set up to a series of companion novels as it's easy to get lost within it's pages. I anticipate that the next fairytale C.J Redwine twists will be just as enchanting as The Shadow Queen, and I eagerly await returning to this magical world that she has created.

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